Staying connected is now more of a necessity than a luxury for many people. Public Wi-Fi is a god-send for those who are constantly on the move or on a strict data plan. However, can you be certain that these public networks are as secure as your own back at home?
May 06, 2021 · 5 min read
Public Wi-Fi networks are the perfect targets for hackers – most lack even basic security measures, and many more attract potential victims in droves. If the free internet access provider doesn’t ensure your security, you must.
A VPN is one of the most robust and secure methods you can use to protect your devices – it was practically made for use with public Wi-Fi.
It sends your traffic through an encrypted ‘tunnel’, making it extremely difficult to decipher or intercept. Having an app on the devices you use to connect to a public network will provide you with this encryption on-the-go. We always recommend using a VPN on free public Wi-Fi hotspots.
The main way a hacker can take advantage of the lack of security on public Wi-Fi is through stealing your personal information. This can be anything like:
If you connect to public Wi-Fi without a VPN, you could potentially be leaving yourself open for criminals to access any sensitive data stored on your device.
Below is a list of ways a hacker can take advantage of an unsecured Wi-Fi network:
Using VPN on public Wi-Fi will render all of the above attacks useless. The encryption process effectively shields all your data from prying eyes. While the would-be hacker will be able to see that you are indeed connected to the internet through public Wi-Fi, they won’t be able to see the details of the traffic transmitted.
Estimates say that 81% of Americans use public Wi-Fi regularly. However, only 1% of Americans enable a VPN to enhance their security while on public networks. The number of people using a VPN when connected to Wi-Fi is slightly higher in France (2%) and Germany (6%).
Surprisingly, almost half of Americans surveyed believe that public Wi-Fi is safe and doesn’t require additional precautions. This is a dangerous attitude and might cause users a lot of trouble in the long run.
Yes, a public Wi-Fi provider can potentially see your browsing history. It’s not a given because it depends on the router they are using. But modern Wi-Fi routers keep logs – what domains you visited and for how long. And if you browsed in a webpage without proper TLS/SSL encryption, they would also log the exact pages you read and the information you entered.
On mobile devices, it gets even more complicated. The Wi-Fi owner can see who you called or texted online, which apps you used, and for how long.
The main way to prevent any hackers breaking into your devices via a public Wi-Fi network is to educate yourself. Once you’re aware of the risks that face you, you’ll also be up-to-date with how to prevent them. Here are the things you need to remember:
With so many VPN service providers out there, it’s hard to make the correct choice. While you may want to gravitate towards free services, they often make their money from selling your details to third parties. Alongside this flaw, free VPN options often place monthly caps on users' speed and data usage.
The best choice would be to buy a subscription service – you know exactly what you’ll be getting for the money you pay. Here’s what you get with NordVPN: